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Broadband prices down 50 percent in past two years

A new study from the International Telecommunications Union shows that the cost of broadband service has dropped an average of 50 percent in two years but remains unaffordable for many.

The cost of broadband globally has dropped around 50 percent in the past two years, according to data out this week by the International Telecommunications Union, but such access is still beyond the income of many around the world.

As individuals may still be getting hit with high bills for broadband Internet, the ITU said that the overall drop was driven by decreases in developing countries, where broadband fell on average by 52 percent the past two years. That compares with price drops of just 35 percent in more developed nations.


The ITU noted, however, that even with the lower prices among developing countries, broadband is still too expensive for the average citizen.

Some of the countries that enjoy the lowest broadband prices relative to their high incomes include the U.S., Austria, Monaco, Macau (China), and Liechtenstein. In all, individuals in 31 highly industrialized countries tend to pay only around 1 percent of the gross national income per capita for basic broadband.

But in 32 countries, people pay more than half the average monthly income for basic broadband. And in a small number of developing countries, basic broadband is more than 10 times the monthly average income. Some of the countries where broadband is beyond the average salary include Tajikistan, Swaziland, Uzbekistan, and Papua New Guinea.

The ITU also looked at the overall cost of ICT (information and communication technology), which includes broadband, wireless access, and other telecommunications services.

Overall, consumers and companies across the world are paying about 18 percent less for ICT services than they did two years ago, according to the ITU. Relative costs on mobile-phone services dropped by almost 22 percent from 2008 to 2010 at the same time that the number of cell phone subscriptions jumped to 5.3 billion from 4 billion.

As with broadband, ICT services are cheap relative to income in areas such as the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia where the costs are around 1 percent of gross national income per capita. But in more developing nations, the cost of ICT shoots up to around 17 percent of gross national income per capita.